Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Musing on Pope Francis and His Philippine Visit

* a rosary from Vatican I obtained from an intimate,
one of the several religious items in my collection
A rock star. Pope of many firsts. People’s Pope. Lolo.

A multitude of names.
One Pope.

In a research seminar I attended many years ago, it was mentioned that a collection of titles for someone or something only manifests the fondness of the people to it. And it is apparent for this so-called Modern Pope. And the recently concluded pastoral/apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines not only made a number of historical firsts for the papacy but also showed how people can unite themselves for an individual.

One can talk of the possibility that some simply treated him in the celebrity-like manner. One can talk that some just sort of rode on that hype of the papal visit. One can talk that some took advantage of the events to earn a few pesos for themselves. But whatever the negativeness that might be thrown, what was MOST evident was that their faith, the Catholic faith, took form again behind the very image of their leader, the pope.

It would be hypocrisy not to admit that in one way or another, his presence, his demeanor, his actions and his silent gestures, made us stop for a moment and made us reflect on our belief, on our faith. As a follower on TV for five days (mainly for current events reasons), his message on the concept of compassion, though very, very simple, pierced my indifference on religious concepts. Yes, I agree: mercy and compassion goes beyond simply pulling out a few coins and giving them to the beggars on the street. It moved me to look outside (almost quite literally) and re-assess my views on giving and receiving, something that a hardcore biblical exegesis would take months, if not years, for me to fully digest. It was the universality of the idea that appealed to me. True, most of his messages (his homilies, to be more precise) were grounded on Roman Catholicism, but one does need a clearly delineated religious membership to understand his messages, particular that one on compassion.

The papal visit might prove to be instrumental for the Catholics to renew or strengthen their faith. But being a universal figure, his visit would hopefully inspire the nation (regardless of social standing) to look to their side and to start caring for others outside of their own personal comforts.

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